3 Bangladesh participates in the Free Youth Soccer Battalion as part of its efforts within the Union

With OTAs having wrapped up and training camp still a month away, now is the time for the NFL to focus heavily on youth football camps.

On Tuesday, the league announced 350 current and former NFL players and coaches will host free, non-contact youth football camps for more than 80,000 children across America. That will come through the NFL Foundation, the league’s nonprofit organization representing all 32 clubs, which has also awarded $1 million in grants to support youth football camps.

One NFL player taking part in these youth camps is Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson III, who is hosting a camp in Houston, Texas. Youth camps like Jackson’s will focus on teaching proper technique across varying skill levels and emphasize teamwork and sportsmanship.

“The NFL is proud to support current and former NFL players and coaches as they give back to their communities and expand opportunities for children to play football and have fun,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “This summer, thousands of children will attend these free camps and learn the fundamentals of football directly from members of the NFL family who are outstanding role models both on and off the field.”

 

Bengals roster breakdown: 90 players in 90 days

200 of the camp grant recipients are working with USA Football to host FUNdamentals Camps this summer, which introduce young athletes to football by teaching basic skills.

Among the FUNdamentals camp hosts will be Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard and quarterback AJ McCarron. Dennard is hosting a camp in Jeffersonville, Georgia. McCarron will host his camp in Mobile, Alabama.

All drills at FUNdamentals camps are based on USA Football’s Player Progression Development Model, ensuring participants learn in an age-appropriate manner.

“The team nature of the military and sports hold distinct similarities – both can foster exceptional character and inspire extraordinary achievement,” said Retired Army General Raymond Odierno, chairman of USA Football, who served as the 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 2011-15. “Playing football afforded me these qualities and USA Football’s FUNdamentals camps, made possible through the NFL Foundation, deliver this to thousands of kids today. Our fun and forward-thinking programs open doors to fitness, friendships and life-enriching values that last a lifetime.”

We’ve seen other Bengals hosting football camps this summer, including Dre Kirkpatrick, Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green. Head coach Marvin Lewis also has his own youth camp.

It’s great seeing so many Bengals doing their part in helping coach up future football players.

Niners CEO: You probably need ‘superstar QB’ to win Super Bowl

The football cognoscenti are in firm agreement: The Browns should and will take Myles Garrett first overall. But there is far less consensus surrounding the 49ers, who pick second overall and have just as many holes to fill as Cleveland.

Might San Francisco bolster its secondary with a sure-thing safety in Jamal Adams? Would the 49ers instead take the best player available in Solomon Thomas? How about trading down to accumulate extra picks in the second round, potentially with Cleveland, which has expressed interest in trading back into the top eight?

At this moment, the draft is Jed York’s oyster, but the 49ers CEO, longing to finally get it right with someone not named Harbaugh, is wary that San Francisco won’t make it back to the Big Game without a pearl at the game’s most important position.

“You need to get the best players, wherever they are, whatever you need to do, you need to find the best players,” York told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche at the 49ers’ facility Wednesday. “It’s proven that if you don’t have a superstar quarterback, you’re probably not getting to the Super Bowl and you’re probably not winning a Super Bowl.”

The new regime, led by Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, has plenty of roster spots to fill, even after a lavish spending spree in free agency, but should San Francisco bypass top talent at No. 2 to reach for a quarterback? After all, the 49ers signed Brian Hoyer in the offseason, a competent signal-caller who has played under Shanahan before. Hoyer’s veteran presence makes it more reasonable for San Francisco to draft a quarterback at the right value — maybe at Nos. 34 and 66 — rather than use a top-10 selection on a position bound to be overvalued on Thursday night.

However, a team source told Wyche that the 49ers are interested in North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who has also earned interest from the Browns. There’s no telling whether this report is an accurate assessment of San Francisco’s interest or a smokescreen set up by the 49ers to leverage a potential trade with Cleveland or another suitor. It’s also not clear if San Francisco values Trubisky at No. 2 or a later position.

Is the next Joe Montana or Steve Young in this year’s crop of quarterbacks? It’s up to each team’s interpretation. The whole draft process is a subjective evaluation of an organization’s values.

In that vein, what avenue of team-building San Francisco pursues on Thursday night will be telling. If the 49ers pick Thomas, Adams, etc., no one will bat an eye as they attempt to rebuild the defense. But if San Francisco goes quarterback early, we’ll know that York and his young, ambitious regime are ready to set a course for Lombardi.